EU standards - or not/Стандарты ЕС - или нет

Almost one year ago, 13th April 2014 to be precise, an entry was published bemoaning the lack of information for Ukrainian manufacturers and service providers regarding EU (and by extension ISO) standards certification.

“For those that are looking westward and desire greater integration, it is surely time to show just how attainable that actually is – in practical and tangible everyday ways.

One example was that of trade and Ukrainian products that already meet EU standards.

Somewhere between 20 – 30% of Ukrainian products already meet, and another 10% or so with simple changes to things like packaging, would meet, EU standards (not to mention ISOs).

Thus EU standards are not only achievable but have already been achieved by certain producers big and small across several market sectors – and yet nobody has produced a consolidated list that publicises what has already been achieved and is easily identifiable to a Ukrainian public that also buys those products.

Why not?

Would it not show quite clearly that European integration is not a pipe dream, but is something not only achievable, it is actually underway in practical and tangible terms?

Is it not an easy public relations win, psychologically fortifying for the believers, irrefutable for the detractors, and also cheap to do?

Considering the tens of thousands of spam commercial comments this blog gets advertising all and sundry each and every year – why, in all the years it has been running, has there never once been a comment offering/advertising a method of attaining EU standards?

Is there a campaign or programme to help Ukrainian businesses over the compliance line? 

If it is policy to talk the talk in an effort to make Ukraine walk the walk – why is it that those that can be held up as examples of success with regard European integration/standardisation aren’t?

That as stated, was written 13th April last year, with the DCFTA, and thus Ukrainian producers expected to meet EU standards by 1st January 2015 when the DCFTA was originally supposed to enter into force.

Yesterday this issue raised its head again when in the company of some business people in Odessa, with implementation of the DCFTA now due to occur on 1st January 2016, having been postponed for 1 year, despite ratification.

Almost a year on from that original entry, how far has this progressed - if at all?

How simple is it to locate direct assistance to Ukrainian business relating to making the necessary information, expert advice, and a simplified bureaucratic guide to achievement?  In short, why could those yesterday not find sufficient and easily accessible information?

The answer appears progress is almost zero - or at least it seems what has been done, has been communicated in such a way as to be an abject failure in reaching the vast majority of the relevant audience.

EU approved

Nobody amongst the business people spoken with yesterday had heard of the “New European Approach”, a way of making EU regulation flexible toward innovation.  None knew how to create “conformity declarations” or when to involve an EU “Notified Body” - let alone where to find an EU “Notified Body” if and when they were required to involve one.  “Assumptions of conformity” and liability if products fail? - No clue from those present.

The only unanimous agreement was that as EU standards are generally in line with ISO standards, more than one market opens up when compliance was met - the issue was how to comply, which was a matter more pressing after the RADA, on 15th January, adopted the law on Technical Regulations and Conformity, designed to implement the European system of technical regulations.

Indeed on both Russian and Ukrainian television advertisements, “Европейский стандарт” - European standard - is used to clearly infer that whatever is being subjected to the sales/marketing is superior in quality to the domestically produced equivalent.  In some cases that is indeed true.  In other cases it isn’t, but the domestically produced equivalent in either nation has not the slightest clue about how to obtain the “Европейский стандарт” it actually meets.

The EU will after all remain a major Ukrainian market.  Complying with the Russian/CIS GOST standards is not an issue regarding that market.

The Ukrainian government has primary responsibility, and the EU has at the very least a requirement of goodwill, if not some responsibility, to effectively communicate what needs to be done for those searching for, and reaching out for, that needed assistance for EU standards compliance.

So what has been done?

The answer it seems, is an interactive questionnaire, recently launched, (22nd January), that forms part of a survey.  “The aim is to assess the level of knowledge and the information needs of manufacturers with regard to the requirements that non-food products must meet to enter the EU market. This concerns the conformity assessment, certification, CE-marking and declaration of conformity.”

Eventually, it appears that a few seminars will be held in several large cities, but when, and how well they will be marketed and promoted, remains to be seen.

Only time will tell whether these seminars will be delivered with sufficient lead-in time for those who receive these pearls of wisdom to act upon the information imparted, and thus meet the required EU standards prior to 1st January 2016 - or whether 2016 will arrive with far too many Ukrainian businesses suffering from a collective governmental/EU lack of timeliness.

A down-loadable idiots guide to the basics, apparently not an option in the meantime it seems.  The publication and promotion of an idiots guide in the local media - which is read far more than the national media - an option perhaps?  Probably not, but you never know.

Perhaps those that read this blog within both the Kyiv and EU bubbles may consider it?  Doubtful, but maybe.

For the purposes of search engines, a few lines below in Russian, directing those that look for such information to the on-line questionnaire and website that is at the very least, a starting point.

Для тех украинских предприятий / производителей с целью получения информации о соблюдении стандартов ЕС и получения сертификата, нажмите здесь в качестве отправной точки.